4 Tips on Networking As An Introvert

Being an introvert is difficult at the best of times. It’s an often misunderstood way to be – people mistake it for rudeness or aloofness, and even those who understand it a bit more often use the term “introverted” interchangeably with “shy”. In truth, an introvert is neither rude nor are they necessarily shy. In the right company, introverts can burn very brightly – but they need to be careful with their energy because being the center of attention tires them out.

It might then seem as though a career in business is the worst idea imaginable for an introvert – you’re going to have to be in the eye of the storm to make things happen. How can you do that if you need to take a break when things get hectic? And more to the point, business often works on the back of a readiness to interact with others. If you can’t network, how can you make the connections that will serve your business when it matters? Can you network as an introvert? Let’s have a look…

Introverts can listen more than they talk

At a networking event, or any kind of conference, you’ll find no shortage of people who are keen to tell you how good their business is, and if you’re prone to eavesdropping, you’ll hear a lot of conversations where people talk across one another. What is often missing is someone willing to listen. This is where introverts can make a vital contribution; happier to stand back and let someone else hold court, they’ll take in a lot of information. This can help you underline ways in which you can be useful to a potential partner or collaborator. When you can repeat back what someone has said, they’ll appreciate that you listened.

Don’t look at your phone

Any introvert knows that having a prop can be massively helpful in social situations: a newspaper, a program for the event, or more usually a phone or mobile device. They’re all very useful when you need to escape a crowd. You don’t go to networking events to escape people, though, and looking at your phone won’t help you recharge. If you’re reading tweets or replying to email, or firing off a text, you’re still using up nervous energy. So leave your phone in your pocket, and go speak to people. Hand them your foil business cards and be your most brilliant self for 30 minutes. By all means, when you’re feeling drained you can step out and recharge – but if you’re going to use energy, don’t waste it.

Silence the dissenting inner voice

Introversion leads to a lot of inner monologues, and it’s no coincidence that most introverts have a tendency to be self-critical. They spend more time inside their own heads than most people will. There is usually a negative inner voice that is part of that monologue, and it is often that voice that comes out when we speak to new people; we may think it’s self-effacing and even cute, but it often isn’t heard that way. If you’re at a business event, you’re there for a reason. Let the negative voice sit this one out, and talk about your business. You believe in it for a reason, so talk about it like a proud parent enthuses about their child.

Caffeine (and alcohol) are not your friends

At many business networking events, there will be a ready supply of refreshments that are designed to get people mixing. Some of these refreshments will contain alcohol – which we have been conditioned to believe is the shortcut that overcomes introversion. It doesn’t. An introvert with alcohol in their system does not become an extrovert. They become an introvert who talks too much to cover their nerves – and aren’t well positioned to make their business seem like an attractive proposition. Equally, coffee is a bad idea because if you’re already struggling to overcome social anxiety, the last thing you need is to accelerate it.


Introversion need not stop you becoming a successful business owner, nor should it mean you stay away from other people who can help you achieve your ambitions. Know when to use your energy and how to make the most of your time around other people, and you can get more from a networking event than you’d ever have believed.

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